Firearm bill a priority for Interior lawmaker

Rep. Kelly says federal rules should only apply to firearms sold across state borders

Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2009

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks lawmaker has proposed the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act, which seeks to stop the federal regulation of guns and ammunition made and sold within Alaska.

Republican Rep. Mike Kelly said federal rules should only apply to firearms sold across state borders, where the U.S. government has constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce.

The bill easily passed the state House of Representatives in April after picking up 11 co-sponsors. It now sits before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its chairman, Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said he will schedule a committee hearing this winter.

The bill could place Alaska into a broader national discussion. Similar bills have passed in Montana and Tennessee, and Fairbanks attorney Lynn Levengood said the shift in Congress and the White House to Democratic control has gun-rights advocates following the debate and planning ahead.

"It's a fail-safe position," Levengood told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "If federal law tries to undo our Second Amendment rights, we've got a fail-safe."

The bill would require the guns to prominently display the words "made in Alaska." The state attorney general's office would defend businesses prosecuted by the federal government.

Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation, said past court rulings could create hurdles as states look to protect intrastate gun trade. But if enough states take action, the momentum could force Congress to rethink the federal government's role in firearm regulation.

"The more states that join in, the more ammunition and clout it gives to the argument," Gottlieb said.

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